Sunday, April 23, 2017

Tall Ships 2017: Mermaids, pirates and more

During the Tall Ships 2017 as well as lots to see out on the Thames there was also entertainment ashore.

Before joining the Zephyr I had a look around the site at Woolwich Arsenal and first up was the mermaid above. She had her own bubble that magically (er, well if you ignore the electric motor and controls to hand) transported her among puzzled children, many of whom were asking "But WHO is she, mummy?"

Also there was this pirate who had clearly seen one too many Johnny Depp movie:

He was part of an ensemble of actors in period dress acting out scenes - such as policemen arresting a criminal - and these milkmaid and woman smoking a pipe:
The milkmaid was very interested in my dead cat - the type on camera microphones I hasten to point out.

There were also all sorts of bands playing lots of different types of music:

It was great to see lots of families coming down to see the boats for the Easter weekend.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Parade of Sail for the Tall Ships 2017


On Sunday the tall ships left Greenwich to head off into the North Sea, some heading onwards to the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, racing from Torbay to Sines in Portugal.

The final event was a parade of sail in which all the ships went up the Thames and then back down passing the Royal Naval College, with some crewing the yards, as in the photo above.

Others went out onto the bowsprit to wave at the crowds on either side of the river:

Not all had sails up, but some did, including this caravel, the Vera Cruz:
Having sailed on Zephyr I looked out especially to see it sail by:
And then they were gone, leaving Greenwich with just the one, the Cutty Sark, frozen in its glass sea...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tall Ship Festival 2017

For some reason I've missed most of the visits of the Tall Ships to London - partly due to busy schedule and partly being off sick. But they were visiting this Easter and everything worked out so managed to get on board one from Woolwich to Greenwich and back.


On the grounds that if you don't ask you don't get a chance I asked if I could steer and so just after the photo above (between the O2 Dome and Greenwich) to just before the Thames Barrier I was at the rather large wheel.

It was rather interesting as the river was busy with other tall ships which had to overtake or steer between, a number of naval vessels heading up river and the usual Thames Clippers zipping up and down river.

It was bit cloudy but that didn't stop it being a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The meaning of the Old Royal Naval College Painted Hall

The amazing Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College is full of amazing imagery and on my recent tour some it was explained by our guide. Alas not all was explained (or remembered) so in this post there are some diversions when I had to fill in my own stories.

Lets start with the end wall (above) and have a look at the bottom right where you can see this figure:
This is a self portrait of the artist James Thornhill. There was probably some symbolism or etiquette to explain the hand gesture but my take was he was asking to be paid.

At the centre is King George and to the left of him these children:
These were actually a big political point. The one thing that the royals have to do is have children. Other problems, including going mad, is something the system can work around. Alas the problem with William and Anne was the lack of offspring. Anne in particular had 17 children but sadly none survived.

So when the House of Hanover took over they were keen to demonstrate that this wouldn't be a problem for them.

I suspect that the globe was the standard imperial pretensions - unless it was for the children planning their gap year travels.

This scene was not explained:

I'm going with the story of how a resourceful thief bared her breast to distract the king while stealing his gold stick with jewels in it thing.

Up on the ceiling the east end had a spot of astronomy and astronomers in it. The guide asked why it was that sailors might be interested to know about the movement of the moon and I'm sure you know why to and you'd be welcome to say so in the comments section.

For example there was this figure:

This relates to the Astronomer Royals prediction of a solar eclipse, complete with date and year. It was suggested that this was a bit of a hostage to fortune as if it didn't happen and had been painted on the ceiling it would be visible for ever and ever.

Fortunately it did happen, though the date was actually "wrong" as Britain was using the old Gregorian calendar.

Nearby was this old sailor:
Apparently he was a bit of a trouble maker so the hospital wanted to find him something to keep him occupied for a bit. It was apparently successful - but only for the duration of the sitting, and then he returned to his usual drinking etc.

But its an interesting thought that some of the characters shown in these figures would have been based upon real people that walked the streets of London. So who was this woman with the owl on her head?
Curiously enough while passing the Cutty Sark on my way to the Painted Hall I saw a stand from a local bird sanctuary and they had an owl too.

Greenwich is indeed one place where you can feel connected to the long and rich history of London.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Restoring the Old Royal Naval College Painted Hall

Previously I blogged my first visit to the famous Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. The reaction was pretty much:

O! M! G!

I can see why they call it the Sistine Chapel of London. The photo above shows just one end of the hall: the ceiling is equally epic. It was painted by James Thornhill at the rather bargain price of "£7000, based on a rate of £1 per square yard for the walls and £3 per square yard for the ceilings".

But alas since completion in 1727 it has had to put up with the "old smoke" and time has not been kind, so parts look a bit like this:

How do I know this? Well it is currently being restored and they are running tours up the scaffolding to have a look up close to the ceiling:

If you follow this link to the old post there's a photo of the ceiling and you can see this figure at the top left, who is Apollo the sun god.

The guide gave a detailed description of the paintings which I've pretty much forgotten but will give it a go in the next post. I might get quite a bit wrong....

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Boats! Boats! Boats! ... on the Thames above Hampton Court Bridge

Rather nice spring weather we've been having and the sailors & kayakers have been out on the Thames.


Thursday, April 06, 2017

Tillerman has gone quiet, but apparently the hits on his blog have gone up.

The lesson is clear - less is more.

So how many hits can a blank post receive?

There was clearly only one way to find out...

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The 2017 University Boat Race

There's a great atmosphere in Putney on Boat Race day.

Out on the water officials are getting ready - or, by the looks of it, enjoying the sun, checking their social media and having a bit of a feet up rest.

On land there's that all important ceremony: the official Carrying Of The Welly Boots:
 Can't imagine how I didn't manage to see that at earlier races.

There's a friendly spirit all round - even the police boat, best known for their catch-phrase "you're nicked, sunshine" were spotted have a friendly wave to someone or other.
Jolly good. Pimms or bubbly or a good old fashioned pint all round.


Monday, April 03, 2017

The 2017 University Boat Race

 Two quick photos from yesterday's boat race.

In the women's race the Cambridge team (above) was so far ahead of Oxford I couldn't get boat boats in frame at the same time. Just brilliant!

Alas the men's team was a different story:
Much closer and the "wrong" team ahead. It wasn't to be Kevin what won it this year.

So like last year a draw, but the other way round.


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Switching to YouTube


Hi Guys!!

OMG! So FINALLY JP is no longer going to be total lame-ville and moving from Blogger to YouTube!

He's SAYS its because of the quality and story telling of SV Delos, but who's he kidding???!!

It was of course yours truly and my vlogging chums who taught him everything he needs to know. You know, me and Millipede are like SO CLOSE!! I mean, that night of the launch party for the Tiny Girls new single!!! We raved until dawn!! Then AGAIN with the lads from Kurupt FM!!

So we put together a series of videos to tell losers like JP (and this Liam fella) how to do it.

AND YOU CAN TOO!!!

Gotta go - streaming live in five!!!

Luv ya!

Sassi

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Blue Rowers on the Thames

Rowers in light and dark blue, spotted out on the Thames this week. Yes, its that time of year again.

Good luck Cambridge!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Wreck and The White House

Zdravstvuj!

Look, no ever said "The White House". Or "and". What someone said was there was this wrecked boat and in the background a building which was white.

But it turned out there was a wreck and a white house - everyone knows that! So don't listen to those false facts or fake news! What I, Boris Staysail, say is true, is true - I have this instinct - and I'm the one writing this so it must be right and you're the fictional one not me!!

If you don't understand you're sad, so sad.

Do svidaniya!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Book review: "A Race Too Far" by Chris Eakin

Of all offshore sailing races, none can compare to the 1968 Golden Globe. To this day it fascinates and is the subject of this great book by Chris Eakin, A Race Too Far.

Its a story that has everything: the place in the record books for the first single handed sail around the world, the battle with the elements, boats that literally fell apart in storms, a great victory, a broken man cheating and lying.... so much drama, so many great characters.

And its been the subject of a series of books, from participants like Robin Knox-Johnston's A World of My Own and Bernard Moitessier's The Long Way to writers like Peter Nichols's A Voyage for Madmen.

At the London Boat Show I met Chris Eakin and picked up a copy of his book, A Race Too Far.

I did wonder what more there was to say about this race, and it turns out quite a bit. For the story didn't end when Knox-Johnston stepped ashore: the participants and their families still live under the shadow of the events of 1968/69.

I really enjoyed this book and its very well written and researched. He tracks down the survivors of the race and some close relatives to competitors for their reflections and memories. These were not always easy given the inevitable damage that comes from the suicide of Crowhurst, the inexplicable death of Tetley and the abandonment of his family by Moitessier.

As you'd expect Knox-Johnston comes across as the most rooted, (distressingly) normal and supportive of the families of other competitors. He also seems to have moved on the most and least likely to dwell on the past (apart from correcting the niggles that Moitessier might have got their first).

Strongly recommended, a worthy addition to the literature about this great race.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Boat work, Richmond

It was a lovely spring day yesterday, and a walk along the Thames by Richmond saw many busy either out on the water or preparing for the year ahead.

There were also lots of men walking around in sort of skirts, but I have a feeling they didn't enjoy the afternoon so much.